Mini Book Haul May 2020

Somehow I have managed to blog about books for nearly 3 years without ever doing a book haul. Not a single one. Yes, I know, I know – I am a terrible book blogger *slaps wrist*. The strangest part is that I actually enjoy reading others’ book hauls. I find a lot of books I normally wouldn’t have, and I like getting to know the reasons why a person chose a particular book. Is it a favourite author? Or did the plot or even the cover pull them in? It’s always interesting to see what makes different readers tick and draws them in. So I’ve decided to do a book haul albeit a mini one – I got 3 books for my birthday and I’m sharing them today. They’re all fairly different, and if you have read any of them let me know. I’ve included the reasons why I wanted it, so you can tell me if my expectations are on point or totally wrong. But without further ado, I’ll jump into the books:

Weather – Jenny Offill  

WeatherWhat is it about? Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practise her other calling: as an unofficial shrink. For years, she has supported her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but then her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. Sylvia has become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right wingers worried about the decline of western civilization.

Why did I pick it? The main reason I chose Weather is because it is on the Women’s Prize shortlist. I’ve already read two from the list – The Mirror & the Light and Girl, Woman, Other – and this was the next one I was intrigued by. It seems a very quiet, character-driven novel which I enjoy, plus the layout interests me. It seems to be made up of snippets of Lizzie’s life and thoughts; vignettes rather than a concrete plot. Novels with similar structures have been a bit hit-or-miss with me in the past, but it will at least be interesting to see how Offill tackles it. It’s also quite short, so I’m curious if the narrative fits the length or if it just leaves me wanting more.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer – Patrick Süskind 

PerfumeWhat is it about? In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages. His name was Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, and if his name has been forgotten today, it is certainly not because Grenouille fell short of those more famous blackguards when it came to arrogance, misanthropy, immorality, or, more succinctly, wickedness, but because his gifts and his sole ambition were restricted to a domain that leaves no traces in history: to the fleeting realm of scent . . .

Why did I pick it? Perfume has been on my radar for years. It is regarded as a modern classic and even made the BBC’s The Big Read Top 100, outranking both Bleak House and Ulysses. So it does have a lot of fans. Again, despite the plot sounding more dynamic than Weather, it seems very character-driven. I also enjoy a good thriller, so I’m hoping this novel combines both those elements. I’m also aware of a movie adaptation starring Ben Whishaw, plus a German series on Netflix which is based off the novel. I’ve not seen either of them but the series does sound interesting, so I want to read the book first then watch it.

The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando – William J Mann

The ContenderWhat is it about? This seems really obvious but here is the blurb from the book: The most influential movie actor of his era, Marlon Brando changed the way other actors perceived their craft. His approach was natural, honest, and deeply personal, resulting in performances most notably in A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront that are without parallel. Brando was heralded as the ‘American Hamlet’; the Yank who surpassed British stage royalty Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, and Ralph Richardson as the standard of greatness in the mid-twentieth century.

Why did I pick it? Most people know I adore Classical Hollywood cinema, and of course Brando was prevalent in that era. I have seen some of Brando’s films – the aforementioned Streetcar and Waterfront for example – but not enough that I have any in-depth knowledge of his work. Similarly, I know only a little of his personal life, such as his troubled childhood, his rejection of the Best Actor Oscar, the abuse he inflicted on the Last Tango in Paris set, but nothing in great detail. I’m hoping Mann’s biography changes that, and considering it is over 700 pages I will probably learn a lot about the legendary actor. It will also be interesting to see how Brando is discussed in a post MeToo world. Last year I read a biography about Marilyn Monroe and loved it, so I’m hoping this continues with The Contender.

 

And that is it – my first ever book haul! Like I said, if you have read any of these books let me know your thoughts on them. All of them I’m keen to get to, so hopefully I will be sharing my thoughts on them very soon.